Kirsten Johnson

Director/ Cinematographer

Kirsten Johnson, Director/ Cinematographer

Classes taught:
Cinematography and Sound II

Kirsten Johnson has worked as both documentary cinematographer and director committing herself to human rights issues and visual creativity. She is the principal cinematographer on over 40 feature-length documentaries and has been credited on countless others. After graduating from Brown University in 1987 with a BA in Fine Arts and Literature she travelled to Senegal to study with acclaimed filmmakers Djibril Diop Mambety and Ousmane Sembene. The experience inspired her to apply to the French National Film School (La Femis), where she began to study cinematography. While in La Femis she began to shoot the documentary Derrida, with directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick the earliest of Johnson’s work to appear in Cameraperson. After graduating from La Femis she went on to shoot a number of highly-acclaimed and award-winning documentaries including “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” “Fahrenheit 9/11” “This Film is Not Yet Rated” and “The Invisible War.” She has a longstanding collaboration with Oscar-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, credited as cinematographer for “The Oath,” “Citizenfour,” the upcoming ""Asylum."" Additionally, she shot footage that appeared in Poitras' visual exhibition on surveillance, which opened at the Whitney Museum in spring 2016. In 2009 Johnson embarked on a directorial project documenting the lives of two teenagers in Afghanistan, the film was to be called “A Blind Eye.” After 3 years of shooting and cutting one of the teenagers retracted her permission to be featured and the film’s scope was reconsidered and structured around the footage that was shot, as well as footage from over 30 films Johnson had worked on over the years. Eventually this was edited into the film that became ""Cameraperson."" When not shooting she teaches the class in “Visual Thinking” at the NYU Graduate Journalism Department, a course in cinematography at SVA, and often leads workshops for young camerapeople and documentarians under the auspices of the Arab Art and Culture Fund in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

Faculty News view all

7th Annual Thesis Showcase Lineup Announced
August 31, 2017

7th Annual Thesis Showcase Lineup Announced

Join us to celebrate GROUP 7, the class of 2017 with our annual Thesis Showcase.  Here we screen each graduate’s work-in-progress thesis films. They inspire and amaze us. We hope you feel the same!
 
Screenings are Sept. 22-23 at the SVA Theatre, and are free & open to the public. Read More
SocDoc Alum David Osit Earns Three Emmy Noms!
August 08, 2017

SocDoc Alum David Osit Earns Three Emmy Noms!

A big shout-out to our own David Osit (class of 2011) for his News and Documentary Emmy Awards nominations for his film Thank You For Playing: Best Documentary, Outstanding Editing: Documentary, and Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary. The film is directed and produced by David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, and David also served as the film's editor, cinematographer, and composer. Read More
Toronto Film Festival, IFP Week & PBS "POV" Include SocDoc Titles
August 02, 2017

Toronto Film Festival, IFP Week & PBS "POV" Include SocDoc Titles

It is just the middle of summer and our steadfast SocDoc alumni and faculty are covering themselves in glory! Like iridescent pearls, they are picking up the light from industry, networks and festivals alike and sending it back out into the world.&nb Read More
Spring Festivals and Awards Roundup
April 13, 2017

Spring Festivals and Awards Roundup

Tis the season to celebrate documentary filmmaking and SocDocers are certainly joining the fun.  From Hot Docs in Canada to Monclair Film Festival in our own backyard and doc labs around the world, we’re thrilled to have such a strong show Read More